About the Author
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald
was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896 and was educated at St. Paul Academy, the Newman School, and Princeton University. In 1917 he left Princeton to join the army and shortly after his demobilization sold his first short story to the Smart Set,
edited by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. Encouraged by his early success Fitzgerald went on to write his first novel, This Side of Paradise
(1920), which was published by Scribners when he was just twenty-three. An exuberant and unconventional novel of undergraduate life at Princeton, it immediately established him as the bright light of his era -- the spokesman for the "jazz age." That same year Scott married Zelda Sayre and the notorious couple divided their time among New York, Paris, the Riviera, and Rome, becoming a part of the American expatriate circle that included Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, and Thomas Wolfe.
The crowning achievement of his career was his novel The Great Gatsby (1925), but Fitzgerald's popularity waned thereafter. In 1930 Zelda suffered a nervous breakdown that required her to be institutionalized. Beset as he was by his wife's illness and his own drinking problems, Fitzgerald was having a difficult time writing Tender Is the Night (1934), for which he drew on both his own experiences and Zelda's fifteen months in a Swiss sanitarium. To accommodate the high life-style to which he was accustomed, he came to rely more and more on his commercial short story writing for The Saturday Evening Post, Scribner's Magazine, and Esquire, earning at his peak more than $36,000 a year.
Fitzgerald died of a heart attack at the age of forty-four while working on his unfinished novel of Hollywood, The Love of the Last Tycoon, which Edmund Wilson considered his most mature work. For his keen social insight, glib sophistication, and breathtaking lyricism, Fitzgerald stands as one of the most important American writers of the first half of the twentieth century.